By Mark Brassel
ANZAC Day – our national day of remembrance – is also popular with race crowds and next Sunday’s meetings will be a bit more special on NSW racecourses.
Last year six meetings were abandoned due to COVID-19 with Bathurst’s Soldier’s Saddle meeting the sole raceday to go ahead, albeit without spectators.
In 2021 there are six meetings that are certain to attract good-sized crowds: Bathurst, Kempsey, Murwillumbah, Armidale, Deniliquin and Nyngan.
“Bathurst’s ANZAC Day Soldier’s Saddle meeting is one of our biggest racedays of the year and the Club is looking forward to a fantastic afternoon in what has become a true Bathurst tradition,” said Michelle Tarpenning, General Manager of Bathurst Thoroughbred Racing.
“We had no crowd last year so it will be great to welcome patrons back, but there will be no two-up or Fashions on the Field.
“However, we’ll still be honouring Australian soldiers who fought and died for our country with an official ceremony from Bathurst RSL accompanied by a minute of silence.
“We have general admission and VIP marquee tickets available for all attending and food stalls, a solo artist and band, and there will also be shuttle buses operating.”
Kempsey Race Club expects to attract a decent crowd with the highlight of the day, the Kempsey Macleay RSL Diggers Cup (1250m).
Tweed River Jockey Club will be staging an ANZAC Day meeting at Murwillumbah Racecourse: “This is the Club’s first meeting since the successful Tweed Coast Classic Carnival concluded on January 31,” said Timothy Booth, TRJC’s CEO.
“It is also the first time the Club has conducted a meeting on ANZAC Day since 2018 – the meeting was washed out in 2019 and last year was called off due to COVID.
“Despite receiving 1109 mils of rain so far this year, the track is in superb condition and is expected to be in the ‘Good’ range come raceday.
“And it’s the first time the Club will have its new big screen in use featuring the local and all interstate metropolitan racing.
“We have a five-race card with the opener at 1:30pm and the meeting is proudly sponsored by Murwillumbah Services Memorial Club, with tickets available from tweedtickets.com.au.”
Armidale has a five-race ANZAC Day program, Deniliquin will also host a five-race card featuring the White Lion Hotel/Motel ANZAC Day Cup, with Nyngan staging a six-race program highlighted by the Nyngan RSL Nyngan Cup.
Nyngan Jockey Club’s Wendy Robb said: "We have a great initiative called 'Ladies Own the Dream' whereby all ladies own a particular racehorse for the day.
"Each 'owner' is able to join the presentation with the owners, jockey and trainers after each race and recieve a bunch of flowers and a bottle of bubbly.
"This is all free and courtesy of Nyngan Jockey Club committee members.
"Our Fashions on the Field has over $3000 worth of prizes and there's also our Punters Club with all uncalimed returns donated to Legacy.
"We have free face painting and jumping castle for the kids and a Calcutta on Saturday night at Nyngan RSL - it's going to be pumping next weekend at Nyngan!"
Deniliquin Racing Club’s Jean Douglas said: "We're hoping for a fine autumn day wìth our main sponsors the White Lion Hotel/Motel and Deniliquin RSL Sub-Branch.
"We have a Fashions on the Field and a prize for the best presented Horse and strapper.
"There's also a points system for the jockey that gets the most points for the day with a $250 prize.
"And the apprentice of the day will be presented with a trophy from the Dunbar Family, in memory of Brigadere Wayne Dunbar.
"Ted Ryan is our “roving reporter” interviewing jockeys, sponsors and in general, anyone who will have a chat.
"We have a members marquee for members & their guests, the sponsors marquee and also our “Peppercorn marquee”, which should have many people enjoying the day.
"Two-Up will start after the last race and will then continue at the White Lion Hotel/Motel afterwards, all being transported there by Dyson’s buses, our new sponsors."
The spotlight swings to Tamworth on Friday with their Cup Day offering more than $500,000 in prizemoney and features the $200,000 Tamworth Showcase Cup (1400m).
Upcoming NSW country race meetings
Monday: Coffs Harbour
Tuesday: Nowra, Scone
Saturday: Coonabarabran, Queanbeyan, Merriwa (non-TAB), Tomingley (non-TAB)
Sunday: Bathurst, Kempsey (non-TAB), Armidale (non-TAB), Deniliquin (non-TAB), Murwillumbah (non-TAB), Nyngan (non-TAB)